A resounding 80% of consumers buy chocolate at Easter and in 2002 they spent £154m on Easter eggs alone (ACNielson).
However, while volumes rose 13%, value managed just a 3% rise as major retailers battled it out with special promotions and Easter egg multibuys for the second year running.
Abigail Rogers, category development manager for Kraft Foods, says while the promotional tactics didn't necessarily attract new consumers, those that did buy into the category bought more. "We saw a lot of offers, such as three eggs for £5, so this coming Easter there will be more focus on trying to drive consumers to more premium products."
She adds the secret for Kraft will be to launch mid-priced, added value eggs. "We've got the Terry's All Gold Egg at £3.99, which we've never had before. If we can offer consumers something a little different they can be encouraged to trade up."
Kevin Toms, sales and marketing director of Guylian, says the brand offers an opportunity, particularly for independents, to fight their corner at Easter. "All our products are sold in the multiples at full price and this gives independents a huge opportunity. Our sales value increased by 7.8%, outstripping our volume growth which was 6.7% [ACNielsen] so retailers don't have to play at discounting."
Nestlé ¡lso paints an optimistic picture for the independent sector this coming Easter. It says the convenience channel grew by 23% [ACNielsen] at Easter 2002 compared with the previous year, and consumers did recognise the value and convenience of the independent offer.
"Despite initial worries over grocery channel deals, the convenience and independent channels had a phenomenal Easter last year, driven by medium-sized shell eggs," says Graham Walker, Nestlé ’owntree's sales communication manager.
He agrees with Toms that retailers should take advantage of the opportunities on offer from premium products. "Large eggs tend to be bought as a special gift for a loved one, so shoppers in this category are less worried about price."